First round of local elections today
The first round of local elections takes place today in France, with the second round due on 30th March. Some 44.8 million eligible voters will be voting from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (8 p.m. in some areas) local time and they will be voting to elect Mayors and councillors across 36,700 towns and cities from 930,000 candidates.
The most local level of government is the Commune. In Communes with less than 3,500 inhabitants they will be electing between 9 and 23 councillors in a first past the post system. However a candidate has to receive an absolute majority and the vote of more than 25% of registered voters to win in the first round. If not they will go to a second round on 30th March where the top scoring candidate wins.
In Communes of more than 3,500 inhabitants they will elect between 27 and 163 councillors in a two-ballot list system where voters vote for a list of candidates.
Perhaps the most interesting elections to watch today will be Paris and France’s second largest city Marseille. Paris will have a woman mayor whatever happens, the Socialist candidate is Anne Hidalgo of the Socialist Party whilst the centre-right Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) have put up Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet. The outgoing mayor is a Socialist, and early in the campaign the UMP looked as though they had the lead, but a gaffe prone campaign by Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet may well have given the city back to the Socialists.
In Marseille, the UMP incumbent Mayor, Jean-Claude Gaudin is expected to win once more, but it could be close.
Elsewhere in France it looks as though the right-wing Eurosceptic National Front (FN) led by Marine Le Pen is expected to do well. These elections will be the first since President François Hollande was elected in 2012. He and his Socialist party are deeply unpopular and this election will be a critical test for them. The centre-right UMP might have expected to do well on the back of the Socialist’s unpopularity, but former President Nicolas Sarkozy has become embroiled in a phone-tapping and corruption controversy which might damage his party’s chances.